August 14, 2016

New Game

So our heroine, Aoba, has graduated from high school and gotten a job as an artist at a game company. That's our story.

We've seen it before: "The people creating your entertainment are a bunch of fruitcakes". It turns out that all of Aoba's coworkers are nuts in one way or another, at least based on the first half of the first episode, which was all I could stand. Then I gave up.

These kind of "industry insider" shows seem a bit masturbatory for the people creating them. First one I ran into was "Animation Runner Kuromi" which really, really reeked IMHO. That cured me of being interested in the genre.

There was one last season or the season before it about seiyuus trying to break in. I don't remember the name, and I didn't watch any of it.

And I probably wouldn't have watched any of this one either, except that Fapservice decided it was worth a post. (NSFW) I suppose I should have picked up on the fact that they only managed to get one post out of four episodes. Still, it gets points for not being about high school girls. (Variety is the spice of life, and life doesn't end in third year of high school.)

But in the end I found it tedious and uninteresting. Thumbs down.

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August 12, 2016

Autumn 2016 preview

Neregate has done its chart already; it's probably not absolutely complete but it's pretty large, so let's see what horrors await us.

As usual I'm not going to comment on everything, just on things that caught my attention.

AniTore EX is getting a sequel. Which is really strange; it was a 5-minute show about girls doing exercises, so what's to sequel? One of the girls was stunning. She was also rich and had her own indoor swimming pool

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And she had a ferret that liked to crawl into her cleavage.

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So at the very least we'll get more of her.

Gakuen Handsome has the sharpest pointy chins you've ever seen on the guys. They look life threatening!

Hibiki Euphonium is coming back for a sequel. I didn't watch the first series but I know some of you did.

Watashi ga Motete Dousunda is... well... this deserves to be quoted because I can't do it justice:

Kae Serinuma was an overweight fujoshi until one of her favorite characters died and she lost weight from the shock. When she returns to school, four attractive boys ask her out, but all Kae wants is to see them kiss each other.

I am NOT going to say anything about fat yaoi fangirls. I'm not!

Nazotokine doesn't have a plot summary yet. All we know is that the main character has the figure we like. Aside from that it's anybody's guess what's going on.

Vivid Strike might be set in the Nanohaverse but it doesn't appear to be part of the "Nanoha Vivid" continuity.

Soushin Shoujo Matoi is about miko-magic, and miko-magic is always a good thing.

Keijo is this season's total-pander series. (There's always at least one.) You can tell just from the intro video on the web site. LOTS of T&A; lots of gainaxing. And a thoroughly stupid series concept which justifies the fact that the girls spend a lot of time in bikinis bumping each other with their butts.

Brave Witches is part of the Strike Witches canon, but this story is about the 502 "Brave Witches". Who are also known as the "Suomus Misfit Squadron". If you've seen the Strike Witches movie, the 502 is where Sanya and Eila were assigned, and where one of their squad mates got hit by lightning while flying in. Well, she's in this show.

Other stuff: Bikini Warriors is getting an OVA, God knows why. Musaigen no Phantom World is getting an OVA and I'm looking forward to that. Tenchi Muyou RyouOuki has been dug out of its grave, cleaned up, and is getting a 4th season. Kancolle is getting a movie.

As usual there's a lot of stuff I haven't got the slightest interest in, like the 97th Gundam show, and half a dozen shows about idols, but overall it looks more promising than usual. Sure as hell better than this summer, I tell you.

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August 06, 2016

Ange Vierge ep 5

Well, no one ever bothered posting the AT-X version of this show and almost certainly that's because AT-X is showing the exact same version as the terrestrial stations.

I took a look at CD-Japan and the first BD is scheduled for mid October and is selling in a "special edition" for about $160, depending on how the exchange rate goes by then. So there isn't anything subtle about what's going on.

The fifth episode came out today, and I got curious and downloaded all the episodes up to this point, and just watched them. I'm assuming that I don't have to be careful about spoilers here, and I'm not going to be. (You can't spoil trash.)

There are six main characters in the show. The basic concept is that there are five world, each different (and conveniently color coded) and each having a different race of people. The black world, for instance, is populated by vampires. Another one has angels. A third has cyborgs. World Blue is ours.

This show is based on a card game, though I'm not sure if it's "collectible card game" or "play it on your phone card game". Regardless, you the player collect girls and then use them to fight other players and/or NPC's or something.

In the TV show combat teams consist of a number of girls called "Exceeds" who have super powers and one girl called an "alpha driver" who represents the human player in the game. When the team goes into combat, the exceeds go out to meet the enemy and the alpha driver stays behind inside an armored capsule. She has the ability to form a link with her Exceeds and can feed them energy, which makes them stronger and faster. But when they get hurt, some of the damage splashed back to her. And if they try to draw more than she can provide, it's a problem.

In our team the alpha driver is named Amane and she's from world blue. Her team has one girl from each of the five worlds. Exceeds have ranks based on how strong they are and at the beginning of the show Amane's team are only at rank 2, mostly. Everybody wants to be better than that and Amane herself is part of the bottleneck. A couple of members of her team rag on her because she doesn't seem to be taking it seriously, but then it comes out that she's been training very, very hard and the reason she seems to be lazing about is that she's recovering from the training she's been doing -- which she doesn't tell her Exceeds about.

What they're all doing is trying to prevent a celestial level catastrophe. The five worlds are moving towards one another and when they meet all five worlds will be destroyed. When the gateway between the worlds appeared this process also began, and a mysterious enemy called Ouroboros appeared and started attacking.

In the second episode the Ouroboros made a massive attack near the main human base and the commander decided to commit all the top level people to go fight it, leaving behind only the most junior people to defend the base.

Unfortunately, that attack was a demonstration, and the Ouroboros then attacked the base. Their target was actually the alpha drivers and they sealed all of them, including Amane, into giant crystals. They're still alive but they're paralyzed and unconscious.

And it turns out that all the high level people involved in fighting the demonstration lose their contacts with their alpha drivers and are defeated. They all get turned to the dark side, more or less.

I didn't mention that in the first episode every one of Amane's exceeds has a sempai from her world and appeals to her for training and assistance. Well, all of those get turned to the dark side, and it appears that most of the rest of the series is in a pattern: each kouhai fights against her respective sempai and does something that causes her power to go way up, making it possible for her to win despite being totally outclassed. In ep 3 it was Saya, the one from World Blue. In eps 4 and 5 it was Almaria, the one from world Black. I assume each of the other three will get the same thing eventually, and then Dr. Michael will figure out some way to free Amane from her crystal and we'll get a boss fight in which Amane's team will suddenly be vastly more powerful than before having unofficially leveled up substantially and will win, saving everyone.

So, how about the "Buy the BD" shots? About half the first episode was bath scenes, which is truly remarkable, but there are such shots (obscured by fog and light rays and suchlike) in all the episodes. Every episode includes at least a few bath scenes, for instance. And when Saya defeated her sempai it was an MCSA, with the sempai's clothes being completely shredded.

It's all trash. Really pitiful.

UPDATE: Oh, and Saya is redlining the angst meter.

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Shouldn't the girls all be wearing glasses?

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August 05, 2016

Raimu-sempai's handwriting

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I have a lot of trouble with Japanese handwriting, and this one is driving me crazy. The left column says: きゃ?いい

I cannot figure out what the third character is. Anyone care to help me out?

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July 25, 2016

Roar!!!

That's what "Bakuon!!" means; it's the onomatopoeia in Japanese for the sound of a motorcycle engine revving.

Pete watched three episodes and gave up on it. Far be it from me to try to convince him to change his mind (I always hate it when people try to do that to me) but I did have some comments.

People have made connections between the four main characters of this series to the "Top Wrench" (was that the name? Probably not...) series about cars and stuff made in the UK, and looked for other things.

But no one seems to have made the connection to Azumanga Daioh which I think is blatantly obvious.

AD didn't have a plot. It was the story of the three years of high school of a small group of girls who were all in the same class, and it simply told the story of all the things that happened to them which they thought were noteworthy. The way I imagine it, Azuma attended their ten year anniversary and got these young ladies together, bought them all beer (including Chiyo, by that point also an adult) and got them to reminisce about their years together in high school, and taped it with a hand-held recorder. Then he went back to his studio and wrote his cartoon.

Of course that isn't true. (Or is it?) But the only overarching story is just three years of high school.

AD is, in a sense, the iconic "cute girls doing cute things" series, but in most of those they set up the situation and then time freezes and things stop changing. What was most distinctive about AD was that time passed and things changed.

And Bakuon!! is in a sense the same way. It's a joke anime telling stories about a group of high school girls who love motorcycles, and if it feels disjointed it's because there isn't any overarching plot. It begins with the formation of the motorcycle club and the 12 episodes we were given cover about the first year and a half of it.

It wouldn't be wrong to call it "cute girls doing cute things on motorcycles".

Pete says he watched three episodes. That's an unfortunately place to give up, because episode 4 is the beginning of the Hokkaido trip, and it also introduces Kamisama. It also has an onsen scene, where we learn about Rin's Suzuki logo scar on her butt.

There isn't any series-level plot but there are long-term background stories going on, most prominent of which is the entire question of what is going on with Lime-sempai. I've written about her several times so I won't go into it again now. Kamisama is another one; he keeps showing up, and when he first met Hane he called her "the chosen one". Did that really mean anything?

In some ways, ep 11 is the most typical episode of the series. It tells three stories, each of which is self-contained, all of which are unrelated to one another, and all of which are hilarious. Only the last one contributes to the series continuity, and only in a small way.

Like AD, the situation does progress. In AD, they advance through the grades, and things change only because time is passing and people are growing up. And in Bakuon!! there are changes to the series continuity, like Chisame joining the club, getting her license, and buying her scooter. But it isn't plot because this series doesn't have a plot.

IMHO it doesn't need one. But that does make it a bit hard to wrap up at the end. AD ended with everyone graduating from high school and heading off to college. Bakuon doesn't run long enough for that, and I thought that the story they chose to wrap up ep 12 was about the best they could do. I liked it; it brought tears to my eyes. But Pete never got that far.

He linked to my first post about the series which I titled "Boobs and Bikes", but I wasn't really totally serious about that. I just liked the alliteration. It isn't really a fan service series. I mean it has some (especially the end of ep 5); but the boobs aren't the point of the show. It's about motorcycles and what it means for high school girls to become bikers. I really liked it, and I hope they give us another cour.

UPDATE: Oh, dear. I forgot how venerated Azumanga Daioh is in some circles and I seem to have commmitted sacrilege.

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July 24, 2016

Is it summer yet?

Everytime I visit the US Weather Bureau web site I see all kinds of warnings about hot weather in the midWest and NE.

It sure hasn't happened here; it's felt like late March for the last month or so: overcast with intermittent rain and highs in the upper 60's. Last couple of days we finally got into April. (It's supposed to hit 85 today.) The problem is the jet stream has been south of us:

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So while all of you are getting your weather blowing north from Mexico and the Caribbean, our weather has been coming down from Alaska.

About a month and a half ago we got 3 days of scorching heat. Well, "scorching" for us anyway; highs in the upper 90's. But then the weather turned cold and it's been cold ever since. I even had to turn on my apartment heat one time.

Oh, well; such is life.

I've become addicted to Haifuri. I've watched it something like 5 times now, and it just keeps getting better. The blatant idiocy of the concept is still evident but the characters are growing on me, and damn it can get exciting during the combat sequences.

A good sign that a series has gotten under my skin is when I start thinking "What comes next?" after the show is over, and so:

Also, it isn't a fan-service show, but they did give us a little.

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When I watch some of the battle scenes which involved larger ships, one thing I noticed is about the ships with 3-gun turrets like Graf Spee and Musashi: when they fire the guns don't all fire at once; they go bababoom.

Is that historically accurate? I've never seen anything like that before. I've seen film of American battleships firing at night and it looked to me like all three barrels fired simultaneously.

Staggered firing would make sense in terms of reducing wear on the turret bearing. Staggered firing would reduce gunnery accuracy by spreading the shells out. Which would be considered more important? In this show we see it from Hiei, Musashi, and Graf Spee, so they're making it both Japanese and German ships doing that.

UPDATE: Another thing that took me a long time to notice:


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July 20, 2016

Fat shaming?

For the love of God, why is this a thing? So-called "Super Pochaco" is a companion to Super Sonico -- or at least she's part of the same canon. Sonico's attractions are obvious, but why, oh why, is anyone interested in this Pochaco? Ye Gods!

Whatever it is, there are a lot of expensive figurines of her, and they wouldn't do that if they didn't sell. What next, a Super Pochaco anime? (Super Sonico got one, and IMHO it's better than it has any right to be. I enjoyed it.)

The way I understand it, Pochaco is Sonico's fan and decided to try to emulate her. But unless she has an amazing singing voice it's apparent that Pochaco is completely unqualified for the role of model and rock musician. (Sonico is also studying oceanography in college, by the way.)

I suppose I should have gotten over being surprised by Japanese fans a long time ago, but this one still massively perplexes me.

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July 18, 2016

Durarara!!

You know how it is, you follow a link and then you follow another link and then you find a series you never considered before and decide to download it. So I ended up with a copy of the first Durarara!! series and watched 2.5 episodes of it before dropping it like a hot rock.

ANN categorizes it as "action, comedy, drama, mystery, supernatural, thriller" and it is all of those. They didn't mention "horror" but really should have. Ye Gods.

I got onto Wikipedia for the series, which is my main source for spoilers these days, and it has a separate page for main characters. Where I found out some stuff:



That seems so ridiculously out of character as to make me wonder if there's really any kind of coherency to the story telling at all.

The headless motorcycle rider is obviously the most interesting character in the series. I had seen her in fan art and so on and didn't know where she came from. Her story seems to be the center of this series, but I'm not willing to wade through all the other stuff just to learn the rest of it.

Actually, by the time I gave up, the series was nauseating me. Just not my kind of thing. So I'll be deleting it.

UPDATE: It's always hard to write a really good bad guy. The problem is coming up with a plausible motive for him, a reason why he's doing what he's doing and really wants to do it.

The bad guy this time,

And that's a cop out. It's just too easy to make your antagonist insane and vicious. It's lazy writing.

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July 16, 2016

Where do magical girls come from?

A surprising amount of the time they arise out of other series which are completely unrelated.

Triangle Heart was originally a series of computer games of the "seduction sim" genre. In the third game the main character was Kyouya Takamachi. Shirou, his father, was a ninja (or a bodyguard?) and trained Kyouya in the art. Then Dad was murdered, and Kyouya is thrown into a vicious battle, which includes a lot of amazing girls, which along the way Kyouya has the opportunity to seduce. (Ick.) His adopted sister Miyuki is one of them. (Double ick.)

Shirou's second wife was pregnant when he died, and the resulting kid sister is named Nanoha. (Ahem.) In the series she's 12 years old and doesn't really participate in the story.

Eventually this particular game was turned into a 3-episode OVA, and when it was released on DVD they tossed in an omake, in which Nanoha was presented as a magical girl. The character we know as Chrono Harlaown was the opponent and the character we know as Lindy Harlaown was presented as a pixy who accompanied Nanoha. It was only a couple of minutes long and it's obvious they did it as a lark.

Little did they know. It was released in 2003, and in 2004 they turned it into a 13-episode series which was, to be blunt, vastly more successful than Triangle Heart ever even hoped to be. Since then it has become a franchise, spawning three more TV series (one of which was 2 cours) and two movies, plus mangas and books and lots of collectibles, and so on. It looks like the franchise may have begun to peter out, however; Vivid wasn't released on BD, and that's never a good sign. Also, the third movie has stalled in production.

IMHO the second movie is the single best entry in the franchise and if you only watch one thing, that should be it.

So that's one example.

Soultaker is a horror series that came out in 2001. Our Hero was stabbed by his mother and buried alive, but gets dug up by a mysterious girl, and then it gets strange. The mystery girl is named Komugi and I don't really know a lot more than that.

What I do know is that they spun off Komugi into a 5-episode ecchi comedy called "Nurse Witch Komugi", back in 2002. I don't know how successful it was. I watched part of it and the only thing I really remember as being noteworthy was a character with blue hair who had a spectacular figure.

In 2016, for some unfathomable reason, someone decided to turn this into a 1-cour series which ran in the first season of this year. I didn't watch it, but the ANN description makes clear that she becomes a magical girl in it.

That's two.

Fate/Stay Night is a very successful franchise based on a completely ridiculous (IMHO) conceit, but that is true of a lot of shows. I never watched it. But at its core it was about the "Grail War" in which a bunch of random people are each assigned a mysterious familiar and have to fight it out to see who gets the Holy Grail and the right to make a wish. (Our Hero's familiar is a gorgeous blonde named Saber, and it turns out that she is actually the reincarnation of... King Arthur. Ick.)

It's a very successful franchise, with several TV series, various mangas and books, at least one movie, and lots of associated statuettes, posters, and lots of other goodies.

One of the competitors was a loli named Illya (and IIRC her familiar turned out to be Hercules), and someone had the bright idea to spin her off into a completely unrelated series where she was a magic girl. That ran in 2013 and the second sequel is running right now.

So... some magical girls, at least, come from existing series which have nothing at all to do with magical girls. And it occurred to me that it should be possible for us to nominate future candidates for this.

The rules are:

1. The character is a girl, ideally young but not necessarily so, and she doesn't have a spectacular figure (yet).
2. She isn't the main character of the series she's in. Ideally she's a minor character who doesn't make all that much of a difference.
3. The series she is in isn't about magic and she herself doesn't have any extraordinary powers.

So here are some candidates I thought of and rejected:

Vivio -- she's already a magical girl and she's part of a magical girl franchise already. Besides which, she already has her own series.
Haruka (Pokemon) -- She's too main a character and anyway she is also already a magical girl, in a franchise which effectively is about magic.
Mitsuko (Railgun) -- She's already a magical girl. (She's level 4 and her power is called "Aerohand".)
Kurumi (Musaigen no Phantom World) -- would be perfect except that she's already a magical girl in series about magic and she's a main a character.
Kuzuha (Hagure Yuusha) is already a magical girl, and a main character.
Natsuki (Keroro Gunsou) is too much a main character.

I do have a few possibilities but I'm not really happy with any of them.

Ursula Abramov (Mouretsu Pirates). She's the member of the yacht club with green hair that likes to wear monster costumes. My idea is that in the new version she gains monster powers when she does that, but we'd have to place the story somewhere (and somewhen) else. Uminoakehoshi just isn't the right place for it.

Karina Sakaguchi (Girls und Panzer). Karina is the driver for Team Rabbit. She's 16 but she's also scrawny, and I think she's make a great magical girl. But I have no idea what kind of scenario would result.

Rize Tedeza (Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?). This would be great, except that it would be even better if it wasn't "magical girl" and instead was "Girl with gun". Mild-mannered coffee server by day, top bracket glamorous spy by night, Rize serves the forces of light by hunting down and neutralizing bad guys! Or something like that.

Saya (Dagashi Kashi) is another borderline case. I think she might be too old for it to really work. (She's the same age as Karina but a lot more mature physically, so the effect would be different.) The show she's in is a comedy and I think her magical-girl spinoff would have to be a comedy, too, and that's a problem. Generally comedies about magical girls don't really work IMHO.

None of these are really very good nominations, and it's a bit surprising I can't come up with anything better.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 05:41 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
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July 12, 2016

Hentai x Hentai

Ubu has done a public service by delving deep into HxH, including reading 7 of the light novels. He has two posts about it (one, two) which convince me even more that I want nothing to do with that series.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in linky at 10:24 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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